Comfort and Joy

A Christmas short story

By Mary K. Tilghman


IMG_2264Pyotr Ilyich, the nutcracker

The family had barely walked away, their decorating finished when two angels put down their instruments and looked at one another. And boy were they angry. 

On the other hand, the snowman, a big round ball of a being dressed most inappropriately for indoors with ear muffs and plaid scarf and a heavy green jacket, was tickled pink.

As for myself, I was not used to such company. Usually I stood beside my smaller counterpart and watched over the front of the house. Baron Ernst is silent as the grave, content to stand at attention, as his duty requires.

“What you looking at, nutcracker?” Addressing me was a smaller snowman, this one in a top hat with a carrot for a nose, poor fellow. I do admit I was staring. He had impossibly pink cheeks that made him look so merry. But as happy as the other snowman was, he was miserable. 

“Sorry, sir. I haven’t properly introduced myself. I am Pyotr Ilyich and this is Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffman serving here with me. He’s a baron, you know.”

“I don’t care if he’s Herr Drosselmeyer. Why you are staring at me?” 

I wanted to explain that he couldn’t be Herr Drosselmeyer because…oh it didn’t matter. I apologized for staring. “You see I don’t get out much and I can’t remember the last time I saw a snowman.”

“Don’t listen to him, Pyotr Ilyich.” It was the big jolly snowman, shaking his head and elbowing his little friend. “He thinks this room is so noisy but I think this is much better than our previous assignments. We’re usually stuck on a shelf in a bathroom, the two of us snow people spending the Christmas holidays in almost total darkness. When we have visitors, they usually don’t even bother to look at us.”

“At least it was quiet. We didn’t have to worry about angels grumbling next to us or, worse, tuning their instruments all the time. If I hear that little girl tune that guitar again, I’m gonna whack her with my broom.” 

The merry snowman tsked. “That’s enough, Kris. She’s a sweet little angel whose been practicing all year for this moment and here she is on the wrong shelf.” 

“Yeah, mine. So shut up, Frostine!” 

I had to laugh. These two snowmen, well snow people—It turns out that under that heavy coat was a snow lady with a sweet high voice, a musical giggle and a warm heart—were at odds over everything. 

Kris, on the other hand, had a rough raspy voice, like he’d been smoking that corncob pipe way too long. “Hey, Russian dude, don’t you be laughing at me.” 

“Forgive me, sir.” Chastened, I bowed stiffly and returned to my duties, standing guard on the bottom shelf of a long, narrow table. It was a busy place, to be sure. I wasn’t in the kitchen but I could see it from my station and I soon discovered it to be often full of good smells of the season, nutmeg and turkey, and my favorite, baking cookies. I watched it throughout the days and nights. Sometimes it was a crowded place, other times a solitary woman bustled around. 

Ernst stood beside me, content to watch without uttering a sound. He used to be quite the talker, back when we lived in another house. He still missed the people who lived there, an elderly couple who sat beside one another to share old stories. They laughed often and were content in each other’s company. Nothing was ever as peaceful as that in this new house with this rambunctious family, Ernst told me early on. He missed his other family and their slower ways.

I liked our new assignment this season. We were in the midst of everything, not like the past years when we stood guard in the front of the house where people rarely stopped. There I stood sentry over things. Here I was watching over people. I liked that better.

I was intrigued by the three angels. Two of them were always busy. One sat atop an ivory ceramic bell, bowing a fiddle. The other strummed chords to old Christmas carols on her guitar and sang in a clear voice. Exactly what you’d expect from an angel. The third angel, the one without a musical instrument, didn’t look a bit happy. She held her folded hands under her chin and said very little. Occasionally, I saw her swipe a tear from her smooth porcelain cheek. I’d never before felt any emotion for another decoration. But for her, I made room in my heart. It became my mission to watch over her especially. 


Clara, the angel

IMG_2266It broke my heart when Cecilia and Martha bickered over our placement on the wrong shelf. Of course we belonged on the table top with the Nativity scene. That’s where the family put us every holiday season. So naturally, the two girls spent the entire year practicing their music to play for the Holy Family. And now, here we were stuck down below the animals and the hay-strewn stable, the shepherds and Kings and, of course, the family. They were feeling put out. This year, I didn’t care.

I couldn’t be happy no matter where I stood. It didn’t feel the same without Lucy. She and I have watched over the manger scenes, singing carols, her rich alto mixing with my soprano for many long years. Ever since the family placed the Nativity scene on the table for the first time, they collected the four of us to stand beside the big brown camel. My sisters and I had become friends from that first Christmas season. Lucy had such her wicked wit and adventurous spirit. 

But when the family packed us all up last year, the oldest daughter wrapped Lucy in brand new newspaper and placed her in a different box. Now a woman, she wanted Lucy for her new family. Lucy was thrilled as she waved goodbye. I was happy for her, of course, but sad for me. 

“You know you can move.” A deep voice with a clipped German accent called out from above us. It stopped Cecilia and Martha’s complaining immediately.

“What?” Martha put her fiddle in her lap and scratched her head with the tip of her bow. 

“Who said that?” Cecilia leaned her guitar against her skirts and looked around.

“I did.” We heard the clomp-clomp-clomp of a set of heavy hooves on the table. Then with a grunt, the speaker tumbled down the back cushions of the sofa. It was Hummel, the large brown camel from the Nativity scene.

The clomp-clomp-clomp was muffled for a bit and then much to our surprise he ambled toward us, though it appeared he had a bit of a limp. I did worry that he might have been injured on the way down from the table.

He bowed, his long eyelashes fluttering and the many tassels of his multi-colored reins dancing around his head and long neck. 

“Oh, it’s Hummel.” Martha clapped her hands. “But however did you get here?”

“As I said, dear girl, we all can move. We are stuck to the table with only a little sticky wax.” 

He held up his big back hoof where a little of the whitish goo was still stuck. So he wasn’t really lame, he just had to contend with the sticky stuff still on his foot. 

Cecilia furrowed her brow. “That’s not the point, Hummel. We were demoted from the table to the shelf, away from the Holy Family.”

“Okay then, but with all your complaining I thought you didn’t remember. Your friend Lucy liked to fly around now and then.”

“Oh her.” Cecilia rolled her eyes. Yes, she was given to dramatics but she was so musical we tried to overlook those moments. “She’s lucky she didn’t break into a million pieces. You remember that time, Clara?”

I certainly did. Lucy got it into her head to fly just after Christmas last year. 

Against all the rules of Christmas decorations—we aren’t supposed to move from our assigned places, you see— she worked her feet out of the sticky wax that affixed us to our places. The wax couldn’t keep us from moving but it helped when faced with the flick of a dog’s tail. Then she flapped her wings until she hovered above the stable. She looked beautiful up there, her glass face gleaming with a delight I’d never seen before. 

It lasted only a minute. I don’t know what happened but she tottered and fell, softly crashing onto the green wool upholstery of the sofa behind the table. Dazed, she didn’t have the strength to move right away. For a heart-wrenching moment, I was afraid someone would come and sit on her lacy glass body and she’d be broken beyond repair. Then I heard her laugh, she soared above us and lit down gentle as a lamb. 

She nudged me with her elbow. “Come on, Clara. It’s fun.”

I said no but now I wish I had said yes. What did I gain by standing there like a good little angel when I could have shared an adventure with my best friend? 

The other two angels, who never considered abandoning the stable, were now listening to Hummel with great interest.

“Luckily, the family only sticks my back foot to the table. When no one’s looking, the lambs and I like to look at the decorations around the house. Mary and Joseph—the Carpenters aren’t the real Mary and Joseph you know—don’t mind when we take off.”

Cecilia nearly dropped her instrument. “Are you telling me there are other decorations?” 

“Of course. The family has a choir of angels in the dining room and there’s a tree filled with silver and gold ornaments in the hall. I’ve seen the nutcrackers standing guard in the living room for years, though I never ventured into the bathroom to meet the snow people. ”

IMG_2261Hummel lifted a hoof in salute to the nutcrackers before whispering to the angels. “They’re such stiffs. You know, duty and all. They said they wouldn’t dare leave their stations, lest something happen while they were AWOL.”

“I heard that,” the taller nutcracker, dressed in a blue uniform, called. “But you are correct. It would be unseemly to leave our posts.” 

A red-clad nutcracker nodded crisply. “Not at all proper.”

Two little lambs cavorted on the floor below us, followed by a much bigger wooly ewe. “Raphael! Gabriella! Mind your manners.”

“Aw, mama. We’ve been still for so long.” One lamb, smaller than its sibling, took off to slide across the smooth wooden floors. It ended by crashing into the leg of the table. 

When it started to cry, its mother looked stern. “That’s how you get hurt.”

The slightly bigger lamb nosed his sister. “See, Gaby? I told you we’d get in trouble.”

“But I want to see the Christmas tree. The family decorated it last night. I want to see all the pretty lights.” It brushed off its thick white wool and peered into the adjacent room. 

“What tree? There’s a tree in the house? I have to see this!” Frostine didn’t have the indignity of sticky wax on her since her flannel-covered self was unbreakable. She rolled off the shelf and even before picking herself up, she gasped. “Why, little lamb, you’re right. There’s a giant tree right there, covered in bows and balls and lights.”

Kris tumbled off the shelf right behind Frostine without losing his top hat or his broom. Grumpy a minute before, he let loose with a low chuckle. “Well, what do you know?” The two of them toddled off to the other room.

Easy as it was getting down was for the snow people, it was a struggle for Cecilia and Martha. They were made of breakable stuff and the family had taken care to stick them to the wooden surface. 

Martha’s fiddle clattered to the shelf as she wiggled her bare toes in a valiant effort to unstick them. Cecilia’s dress was stuck just as tightly.

“Would you hold this?” She held up her guitar in front of my face and I grabbed it before it fell. Then, bending down, she tugged at the hem of her gown until finally she was free.

The two girls laughed loudly as they stood on the edge of the shelf and leaned toward the doorway to see the tree.

Still giggling, they jumped off the ledge and ran into the next room.

As for myself, I welcomed the quiet. I wasn’t myself this year, still hurting over losing my best friend ever. 

A moment later, Cecilia skipped back and looked up at me still perched on the shelf where I had been placed. “Aren’t you coming?” 

I shook my head and tried to smile. “No, you go on and enjoy yourself. Maybe later.”

“Sir?” On the other side of the shelf, Baron Ernst was saluting the taller nutcracker. “Permission to speak.”

“Relax, Ernst. It’s fine to call me Pyotr.” He put out a hand to his colleague. “We’ve been on this assignment together long enough for me to consider you a friend.”

The shorter nutcracker put his arm down and seemed to loosen up. “Sir, I mean, Pyotr, I’d like to see the tree if you don’t mind—I mean if you think it’s all right. I don’t want to abandon my post and leave the house in danger.”

“It should be all right. We haven’t had to fight off the Mouse King and his army for quite some time.”

“Thank you, sir. Would you like to come too?”

I saw the nutcracker glance over at me. To avoid his gaze, I looked down and fretted over the guitar in my care even as I could feel the pink roses in my cheeks turning a color much closer to scarlet.

“No, Ernst, I think I’ll keep watch for now. You go on and enjoy yourself.”

The shelf was empty. Two silver bells and a bit of greenery were all that stood between the nutcracker and me. 

He cleared his throat but I didn’t want to look over at him. I just wanted to be left alone.

“It feels so different this Christmas, don’t you think?” Pyotr’s voice was gentle, almost kind enough for me to want to pour out all my troubles to him. But I didn’t know him at all. So I nodded a little, put down Cecilia’s guitar and closed my eyes, a sign, I hoped, that I wanted to be alone. It was a very different Christmas without my dearest friend. 


Pyotr, the nutcracker

It was just as well when the pretty angel rebuffed my attempt at small talk. Ernst and I had gotten out of the habit of conversation. And when was the last time I talked to a girl? For that matter, this was the very first time I’d ever even imagined speaking to an angel.

What should I say to her? What was appropriate to say to an angel? I didn’t know anything about this angel. Not even her name. I’d heard her call the other two by their names but what was hers? Maybe asking would be all right. 

I let the silence ring between us for a little while. With all the chatter in the other room as our shelf-mates explored the Christmas tree, it wasn’t really quiet at all though it was pleasant. I enjoyed hearing the excitement in their voices as they looked at all the different things hung on those evergreen boughs. 

I’d had the pleasure of a season spent guarding the tree a long time ago when the family decided to put it in the living room right across from Ernst’s and my post.

It had been a marvel. Lights that sparkled red and green and yellow. There were bells and balls, bows and icicles and lots of little decorative things in a wide array of colors. And on the top, an angel too shy to talk to anyone. I wondered if she was there for this season, and what she thought of the hubbub going on right below her wings.

I had to try again. Not only did I want to for myself, I longed to see such happiness bring a sparkle to her eyes.

But first I followed the camel’s advice and wiggled and squirmed until my base came loose from the shelf. That wax was surprisingly sticky but I knew from experience that it held tight when a visiting pup swished its furry black tail at my face. 

I strode to the angel’s side and bowed most formally. “Madam,” I said, emphasizing the deep tones in my voice. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, a nutcracker by birth and a nobleman who wears the uniform of my father in Russia.” 

She curtseyed as a beautiful blush lit up her face. “How do you do? My name is Clara. I am one of the littlest of Christmas angels. I usually watch over the stable through the Christmas season with my sisters Martha and Cecilia and my best friend Lucy. But this year Lucy has gone to a new home and the family has moved us to the shelf with you. We feel a little out of place as I guess you heard my sisters.”

“I too am in a different place. The family used to put Baron Ernst and me in the living room but this year, we are here with you and the snow people. It’s a jolly little group, don’t you think?”

“I suppose it is but I wonder why we are all on display together?”

“Maybe because we represent different stories of the Christmas season. You are part of the Nativity story. The snow people represent, I guess, all the wintry songs and stories, such as Frosty the Snowman. I am named for the composer who wrote the famous Christmas ballet. My colleague is named for the author of the story upon which it is based.” 

“I did wonder at your names. They are awfully complicated for nutcrackers.”

“I have a particular fondness for your name. The character in the ballet who receives a nutcracker as a gift from Herr Drosselmeyer is often named Clara. It is a lovely name.”

I put my hand out in hopes she would join me in taking a seat on the edge of the shelf. She hesitated so I smiled at her with my most gentle expression and was rewarded with her delicate hand in mine. 

I didn’t want to let it go as she took a seat next to me. She smelled like fireplaces and evergreens, the perfect combination for these celebratory days. Her hair fell in ringlets down her back all the way to her silvery wings.

“I’m sorry we haven’t met before,” I said. 

“I didn’t dare move from my spot by the stable. It seemed a dreadful risk to take.” A tragic look passed across her face and she sighed a little. 

I nodded. “It is true.” I turned my shoulder towards her to show her where I had been glued back together. “Before the family used the waxy stuff on our feet, I was often carried around by a small child who occasionally dropped me.”

“A lot of us are like that,” she said, a true smile now on her face as she fluttered her wings. “If they get chipped much more, I may never be able to fly again. But I don’t mind as long as there’s a child to play with me. The Nativity scene is another matter altogether. It’s been in the family a long time. I think they would cry if a piece was broken.”

I was curious about what was going on above us. “I’ve never seen the stable before. It’s quite a busy place with all those animals and people.” 

“The scene is quite old. It used to belong to the family’s parents. I don’t think the family would like to know Hummel takes off whenever he gets the chance.”

“Or those lambs either. They look like they lead their mother a dance.”

The angel laughed. “My friend Lucy used to look after those two.” Then suddenly her face grew dark and I was afraid she might cry. I patted her hand and she continued her story. “I’m sorry. I really do miss her.” 

She smiled up at me, tears brimming in her eyes. “I feel so alone this holiday.”

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to miss someone so dear to me. But until this year, I never knew there were so many of us here to celebrate the season.” My heart was full. Resigned to my duty with a taciturn colleague, I had given up hope of finding a friend. Now here I was holding the hand of a sweet angel who desperately needed someone. Maybe it could be me.

We talked for a while, stopping occasionally to listen as Mary and Joseph chatted with the shepherd and the Kings. They liked to tell stories while the baby slept. 

By the time Martha came running back to see Clara, I was sure we would be lifelong friends.

She was breathless with excitement. “You have to come. The choir needs your voice, Clara.” 

Confusion was written all over my new friend’s face. “What choir?” 

“It turns out there is a choir of angels hovering over the dining room table. I need to get my fiddle and Cecilia’s guitar. An angel named Holly wants to lead us in Christmas carols. She has all the word printed out on a long sheet of parchment. Of course we already know them all but I told her I’d bring you. Another angel named Ivy has a guitar too. You have to come. It’s going to be beautiful.”

Do you know what joy looks like? Maybe I’ve seen it before but now I am sure what it looks like. Clara’s face beamed with that miraculous sense of happiness we sometimes experience. After being sad for so long, she needed to join her fellow angels and sing.

“That’s my cue,” she quipped with a little chuckle. “I have to sing with them. I’ll bring Cecilia’s guitar, Martha.”

Martha nodded and then scrambled up to get her fiddle and race back to the dining room. 

I couldn’t help the growing sense of excitement deep in my heart. It felt like the thrill of the measured steps and rising melodies of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Clara reached for the little guitar and with a flap of her wings rose from the shelf.

I carefully lowered my stiff limbs to the floor, afraid of breaking something but anxious to hear the angels sing.


Clara, the angel

I fluttered my wings only once and I was airborne. Rising above the manger scene, clutching Cecilia’s guitar, I was both exhilarated and terrified. I couldn’t keep the memory of Lucy’s nearly tragic fall from weighing me down. But oh to sing with a choir. It was my fondest wish and now it was coming true. 

The four of us—Cecilia, Lucy, Martha and me—spent every Christmas season amusing the folks gathered in that stable with our songs celebrating the holiday season. We loved the ones about angels best but we’d learned a few silly ones like Jingle Bells and songs about Santa Clause. This year though, our trio didn’t sound nearly as good without Lucy’s deep alto voice. We still sang, it’s what we do, but it wasn’t the same.

Much as I wished to hurry through the kitchen to the place where the angels were gathering, I needed to wait for Pyotr. He’d been so kind to me, in a way I had never known before. I liked sharing stories with him and seeing his eyes light up as I explained the whole story behind that stable—even why there was a camel among the animals. Hummel was the first dromedary Pyotr had ever seen. 

 As I reached for his hand, he smiled. “You can go ahead if you want. I’ll be right behind you.”

Oh I couldn’t race ahead. I held onto his hand and we strolled across the floor. The dining room was lit by the power of angels. They glow when they sing, you know. A sextet hovered around the chandelier—all different kinds of angels from many different places. One with a hand-crocheted gown said she was from Croatia, another wore a lei from Hawaii. A little Cupid-like angel was studying the lyrics on her parchment.

Cecilia raced up to me for her guitar and then flitted up to the chandelier where Martha and Ivy were tuning their instruments. Two larger angels, the Tree Angels, stood together—an unusual occurrence since they reign over trees in different parts of the house—their heads bent close as they whispered to one another. They seemed so friendly I wondered if they had been meeting often over the years.

The lambs were there with their mother. Gabriella had fallen asleep, nestled against her mother’s soft side. 

I paused before fluttering up to join the choir. 

Pyotr pointed to a spot at one corner of the dining room table. “There’s Ernst and Hummel. I’ll go sit with them. 

Hummel had sat down, his long legs folded under his big furry body. Ernst rested beside him, his arm around the camel’s neck. I couldn’t help glancing their way often through the night. Pyotr and Ernst were such good friends, even though they said very little to one another. Hummel, not much of a talker either, made their group a contented threesome.

A tiny angel holding a bouquet of flowers hovered beside me. “I was sorry to hear Lucy has gone away,” she said quietly. “I’m sure you miss her very much.”

I nodded, holding back the tears stinging my eyes. “I’m sure she’s happy with her new family” was all I could choke out. 

“Singing will do you good,” she said. “At least, it makes me feel better.”

Her sweet smile and kind manner made me think she might be right. Now was not the time to feel sorry for myself. “I’m Clara,” I replied. 

“And I’m Joy.” 

“Honored to make your acquaintance.”

Ivy cleared her throat and rattled her parchment. “Shall we begin?”

Our songs began with an old favorite, “Silent Night” which we sang in English, Latin and the original German. 

A couple of the angels knew it in Spanish and Swahili and we listened to the beautiful song.

The room glowed brighter as music filled the air. I could feel the excitement growing in the room from the music, our being together and knowing that it was Christmas Eve, the night when the real angels sang out the news for the very first time. I could hardly breathe.

We sang and sang and sang.

One of the Tree Angels knew a whole repertoire of Latin Glorias and even Handel’s Hallelujah chorus. Normally so shy, she closed her eyes to sing out the ancient tunes. It was magical.

The snow people, who had run around the house all night, settled in beneath the chandelier to listen to her. The shepherd and the Kings took seats beside Hummel, although the Carpenters remained in the stable to watch over their sleeping babe. 

Not wanting to awaken the child but wishing to include Mary and Joseph, we sang a little louder, but not too loud.

Mostly we sang the old Christmas carols, whose words everyone knew but Martha insisted on teaching Jingle Bells to those who had never heard it. The song got a little raucous and we ended with a round of giddy laughter.

As it ended, I glanced down to see my new friend Pyotr clapping for me. I realized Joy was right. I was feeling better. 

A clock on the mantelpiece chimed the hours but as one o’clock became two and two became four, we felt as if we could sing forever. Then the clock tolled five. It was a signal to wrap up our songfest, even though no one said a word.

“I have a request.” I longed to sing Lucy’s favorite song—and one that seemed appropriate for a choir of angels. “May we finish with Angels We Have Heard on High? It was my friend’s most favorite song.”

“Oh yes, we must,” Joy chimed in. “What an wonderful way to end our festive night.”

We sang it in English. We sang it in French and we belted out the Latin chorus as if Christmas couldn’t begin without it.

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Lucy could sing the whole refrain—even its extended O—without taking an extra breath. It was a marvel to behold. I tried not to feel the tears gathering at the corners of my eyes but, instead, tried to hear the deep alto harmony Lucy would have lent to the hymn. 

And even if she was no longer by my side as she had been for the past forty, it seemed like she was. At least for a moment.

As the first glimmer of daylight shone through the window, we began to take our leave, promising to sing again the next night and every night until the Christmas decorations were taken down and put away for another year.

“Clara?” Joy called to me. “Your friend Pyotr has been very worried about you.”

“Did he tell you?” I started to say but she put her hand out to stop me.

“No, but his friend Ernst has been talking non-stop.”

I had to laugh. He’d been so non-communicative while we shared space on the shelf.

Joy went on. “Ernst told me you were missing your dear friend. And he told me that Pyotr wants to offer you his friendship and some comfort.”

She held out her little posy. “He asked if I might give you my flowers.”

“Oh no.” I had to object. “I couldn’t take your flowers.”

“Oh please. I’m quite tired of holding them. They were placed in my hands more than thirty years ago. It’s time they gave someone else some joy.”

I took them tentatively as Pyotr approached me. “Joy tells me this was your idea.”

“No, it was Ernst’s. But I wish I’d thought of it.” He blushed and turned to Joy. “Thank you for your generosity.”

She shrugged her delicate shoulders and ruffled her feathery wings. “It’s a perfect thing to do at Christmas.”

Pyotr took my hand and we walked slowly back to our shelf to witness the family’s holiday. At the dining room doorway, he stopped and looked up.

“Do you know what that is?” he asked.

All I could see was a sprig of greenery with a red bow. “Holly? Ivy?”

“No, it’s mistletoe.”

That didn’t mean anything to me but I could tell from the pink in his cheeks it meant something to Pyotr. “It’s traditional to kiss under the mistletoe. That is, if you’d like to.”

I’d never been kissed anywhere so I nodded, my heart thumping at this new experience. He leaned in and lightly pressed my cheek with his soft, warm lips. I gasped and touched the place with my fingers. “Now, do I kiss you?”

“If you would like to.”

His cheek was soft and round and pinker than I’d ever seen it. “Merry Christmas, Pyotr. And thank you.”

“The pleasure is all mine.” He squeezed my hand. “But we better get moving. I think I hear the family stirring upstairs.”

We rushed to the shelf and scrambled up where I took a new place beside Pyotr. After all that singing I was a little tired but so exhilarated.

Pyotr looked confused. “Shouldn’t you be with the other angels?” 

I shook my head. “No, I’m happy here.”

Even if I wanted to move there was no time. The family raced into the family room on their way to the presents waiting for them under the Christmas tree.

The youngest child, a girl named Merry, stopped and stared at our shelf. “Mama, I think the angel moved. And she has flowers now.” 

Merry, when she was about six, liked to carry me around so I know she was quite sure what she was talking about. 

“And the nutcracker has a funny new expression.” She looked from Pyotr to me and back to Pyotr. 

“I think you’re right, dear. I wonder how that happened.” Her mother put her arm around her daughter as they walked away. “I guess it’s a Christmas miracle.”

I took a sniff of my bouquet of white blossoms. It was indeed.

The End

2019 Mary K. Tilghman


The inspiration for this story came during the night after I had set up the table with these Christmas decorations, most of them quite old. The Hummel Nativity scene and the nutcrackers were handed down from my husband’s parents.



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